Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Slipping the Chain


NewsRevo : RT Jayron26: UPDATE: #berkeley streets flooded with tear gas: image via SpokaneIWW @SpokaneIWW, 6 December 2014

Ascending an ill-marked path in the arid rocks of the F.D.R. Mountains, Manfred Steiner halted as he saw ahead of him a party of six dark, shadowy men. They carried with them paka eggs filled with water, quivers of poisoned arrows, and each woman had her pounding block. All smoked cigarettes as they toiled, single file, along the trail.

Dust devil lines in the sands of Mars, as seen by Mars High Resolution Imaging Experiment at Active Curve Gully: photo by NASA Marshall Space Center, 12 July 2012

Seeing him, they halted.

One of them, a gaunt young male, said politely, "The rains falling from your wonderful presence envigor and restore us, Mister."

Embedded image permalink

Extraordinary photo from @JamesSwisher of #teargas at #Berkeley #BlackLivesMatter rally. You won't see this on news: image via Victoria Brownworth @VABVOX, 6 December 2014

Manfred did not understand the words, but he got their thoughts: cautious and friendly, with no undertones of hate. He sensed inside them no desire to hurt him, and that was pleasant; he forgot his fear of them and turned his attention on the animal skins which each wore. What sort of animal is that? he wondered.

The Bleekmen were curious about him, too. They advanced until they stood around him on all sides.

Cape Canaveral, US. The Delta IV heavy rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft sits on the launch pad awaiting liftoff
: Scott Audette/Reuters via The Guardian, 4 December 2014

"There are monster ships," one of them thought in his direction, "landing in these mountains, with no one aboard. They have excited wonder and speculation, for they appear to be a portent. Already they have begun to assemble themselves on the land to work changes. Are you from them, by any chance?"

"No," Manfred answered, inside his mind, in a way for them to hear and understand.

#BERKELEY: Police use tear gas, flashbangs against #HandsUp protesters: image via Anonymous @YourAnonGlobal, 6 December 2014

The Bleekmen pointed, and he saw, toward the center of the mountain range, a fleet of UN slave rocket vehicles hovering in the air. They had arrived from Earth, he realized. They were here to break ground; the building on the tracts of houses had begun. AM-WEB and the other structures like it soon would be appearing on the face of the fourth planet.

"We are leaving the mountains because of that," one of the older Bleekman males said to Manfred. "There is no manner by which we can live here, now that this has started. Through our rock, we saw this long ago, but now it is here in actuality."

Embedded image permalink

URGENT: Tear gas, violence, 'looting' in #Berkeley: Protesters clash with police
: image via Anonymous @YourAnonGlobal, 6 December 2014

Within himself, Manfred said, "Can I go with you?"


Staff pose with vehicle on Haste and Telegraph #Berkeley #Ferguson2Cal @elizasuppal: image via U.S. Dept. of Fear @FearDept, 6 December 2014

"Good morning, Mr. Kott."

Annoyed at having his meditation interrupted, he glanced up and saw that a girl had entered the room and was standing by his desk expectantly. He did not recognize her. A girl from the secretary pool, he realized, come to take the morning's dictation... The black silk dress she wore: there isn't much on under that, he said to himself as he observed her around the side of his newspaper...

The girl approached in a luxuriant sliding motion that surprised him; she seemed to creep sideways over to the desk. And in an insinuating, hoarse voice, she said, "No, Arnie, I'm not scared of you." Her blunt stare did not seem to be one of innocence; on the contrary, its implied knowledge jolted him. It seemed to him as if she were conscious of every whim and urge in him, especially those that applied to her.

A towering dust devil casts a serpentine shadow over the Martian surface in this image acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The scene is a late-spring afternoon in the Amazonis Planitia region of northern Mars. The view covers an area about four-tenths of a mile (644 meters) across. North is toward the top. The length of the dusty whirlwind's shadow indicates that the dust plume reaches more than half a mile (800 meters) in height. The plume is about 30 yards or meters in diameter. A westerly breeze partway up the height of the dust devil produced a delicate arc in the plume. The image was taken during the time of Martian year when the planet is farthest from the sun. Just as on Earth, winds on Mars are powered by solar heating. Exposure to the sun's rays declines during this season, yet even now, dust devils act relentlessly to clean the surface of freshly deposited dust, a little at a time.  This view is one product from an observation made by HiRISE on 16 February 2012, at 35.8 degrees north latitude, 207 degrees east longitude: image by NASA, 7 March 2012 (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

"You been working here long?" he asked.

"No, Arnie." She moved closer now, and rested against the edge of the desk so that one leg -- he could hardly believe it -- gradually came into contact with his own.

File:Martian Dust Devil Trails.jpg

Dust devil tracks on Mars. This portion of a recent high-resolution picture from the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows twisting dark trails criss-crossing light coloured terrain on the Martian surface. Newly formed trails like these had presented researchers with a tantalizing Martian mystery but are now known to be the work of miniature wind vortices known to occur on the red planet -- Martian dust devils. Such spinning columns of rising air heated by the warm surface are also common in dry and desert areas on planet Earth. Typically lasting only a few minutes, dust devils becoming visible as they pick up loose red-coloured dust leaving the darker and heavier sand beneath intact. On Mars, dust devils can be up to 8 kilometres high. Dust devils have been credited with unexpected cleanings of Mars rover solar panels: image by High Resolution Imagery Experiment (HiRISE), University of Arizona, 21 October 2009 (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Methodically, her leg undulated against his own in a simple, reflexive, rhythmic way that made him recoil and say weakly, "Hey."

"@elizasuppal: I can't even caption this #Berkeley #Ferguson2Cal" Caption: Make love, not war: image via Jerry Suarez @IamJerrySuarez, 7 December 2014

"What's the matter, Arnie," the girl said, and smiled. It was a smile like nothing he had ever seen in his life before, cold and yet full of intimation; utterly without warmth, as if a machine had stamped it there, constructed it by pattern out of lips, teeth, tongue . . .

Dust Devils make their marks in Gusev Crater. Gusev Crater is decorated by tracks made by dust devils that have been observed by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), and HiRISE images. Dust devils are of interest because they may clean the solar panels that provide power to Spirit, and are partially responsible for dust transportation on the surface of Mars. Dust devils are actually giant convective vortices that form as a result of atmospheric vertical instability. Solar radiation warms the surface, forcing air to rise to an atmospheric convective boundary, where it then cools. The denser, cold air parcel descends and generates a circulation that creates a suction effect. As the dust devil picks up material from the bright dust-mantled surface, it exposes the darker basaltic substrate. These scribble marks will follow the prevailing winds and tend to cluster together as the lower albedo surface heats up more quickly. Scientists are trying to understand the relationship between dust devils and craters and other topographic features that generate multiple wind directions: image by leerannals, 16 September 2008 (NASA)

When next he looked up the girl had gone.  He was alone.

I don't remember that, he said to himself. 

Philip K. Dick: from Martian Time-Slip, 1964

Devotees are shrouded in smoke during the procession of Saint Andres, in Arnedillo, Spain. Every year, devotees of the saint celebrate the ‘procession of smoke’, which they believe protects their health: photo by Alvaro Barrientos/AP via The Guardian, 6 December 2014

 sudden burst of tear gas on telegraph, cops are really shoving forward right now #berkeley: image via noah kulwin @nkulw, 7 December 2014


Hazen said...

Tom, Each day you construct for us a new world out of the broken pieces of the old one; your worlds make as much or more sense than those former worlds we thought we understood, where people and other creatures get caught up in the vortices of meanings, like dust-devils. An anthropology of the future. Brilliant post today. And how sly of you to slip in that photo of the faithful taking to the streets in Spain to celebrate the Feast of Saint Andrew, patron saint of smoke and—I’m guessing—of tear gas and flash bangs as well.

TC said...


I don't know how many more of these new worlds we can stand.

The fear of course would be that in the future anthropology would be a dead science, the subject of its study having become extinct and the study itself going on (perforce) on some other planet. Maybe, say, Mars, where Dick staged this novel.

He lived for a time upstairs of an electronics repair shop on Shattuck, where he toiied away at pulp sci-fi stories (hoping someday to be accepted as a "real" writer), maybe a mile from where these Berkeley photos were taken. (Another of his novels is set in that Berkeley location, and features a nuclear war.)

It was a crazy night and now as night falls the anxiety and confusion and street and aerial action set in again.

And on the anthropology of the future, this just in -- the midwest furry animal convention in suburban Chicago shut down by chlorine gas attack, all humans dressed up as furry animals now under suspicion. The furry animal hospital a madhouse, no vacancies.